On Saturday night, just for a change of pace, I went with a couple of friends to see a professional lacrosse game. Now, if you’re like me, your first reaction to a sentence like that is something like, “There are professional lacrosse teams?”
As it turns out, yes. The National Lacrosse League (NLL) has been in operation, under a handful of different names, since 1987. And, since 2010 there’s been a team in the Seattle area known as the Washington Stealth. In fact, they were the league champions in their first season.
Of course, no one I’d talked to had even HEARD of the team, let alone their championship. One reason, I’m sure, is that the Stealth play in Everett, which is a city about half and hour north of Seattle. Just far enough that it falls outside the notice of most Seattlites. Add that to the fact that most of them have never actually seen (much less held) a lacrosse stick, and you can understand why they aren’t aware of one of the few championship teams the area’s ever had.
I, on the other hand, grew up in the northeast, where lacrosse was born (adapted from a Native American sport) and where pretty much every high school had a varsity team that got pretty solid support. I never played, myself (tennis and baseball were more my sports), but I was fully aware of lacrosse and have always thought that it was a lot of fun to watch.
Of course the NLL features an indoor version of the sport, played on a hockey rink sized field. The rules require constant shooting and thus encourage a “fast break” style of play that is quite different from the games I used to see in high school and college — but quite exciting and fast-paced.
The Stealth are nowhere near as good this year as they must have been back in 2010. In fact, they got pretty much blown out of the water at Saturday’s game. But the event was fun, the crowd was energetic, and the action was easy to understand and follow, even for someone who had never seen a lacrosse game before (like the friends who came with me).
All in all, I’d say it was a fun night. And afterwards, since we were already up in Everett, we went to the AFK Tavern for a late dinner … so that made it even BETTER.
The NLL season is only 16 games long, so it only lasts for about 3 months. I hope I’ll be able to get back up to Everett for another game … and maybe even talk some more friends into joining me for the sheer spectacle of it.